The Modernist Movement of the 1920s can be best characterized by vintage Art Deco jewelry, with its bold and geometric style. Clothes and hairstyle moved away from the overflowing style of the previous generation and became simple and practical, arguably the next step in the modern woman. Just as fashion during that period trended away from curves and towards straight lines and flat structure, Art Deco was clean, vibrant and organized.
Art Deco became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, but has its influences from a huge mix of Egyptian (think about the pyramids!) and Asian (Japanese jades, Chinese imagery) culture along with Greece and African roots as well. This type of blending may, at first sense, feel a bit ironic because of Art Deco’s marriage to order and straight lines as opposed to a melting flow of styles. However, the world influences allow for a diverse, yet clean feel to the jewelry, one that could use more materials (meaning more affordable materials) and still maintain certain geometric motifs. Certain architectural designs from world-wide cultures inspired design and form, making Art Deco an international movement which could capture history and form in one piece.
Art Deco costume jewelry emerged in part because of industrialization. Just as the rest of western society was heading towards machinery and function and dropping flowing and natural looks, Art Deco jewelry showcased basic geometric shapes like triangles and rectangles. This need to define things so cleanly worked well with jewelry to create bold and strong designs. Designers utilized patterns and strong colors, which were highlights by a more defined constraint, especially compared to the previous era of whimsical and fraught colors.
As jewelry and fashion started to merge, Art Deco costume jewelry made the style more accessible to the general public. Whereas traditional diamonds or gold and other gemstones were expensive, Art Deco was creative in its development using plastics and ceramics, giving a vintage and practical look. This also made the style more popular.
Although Art Deco has its roots from Paris, France, the jewelry echoed the growing changes of New York skyscrapers as well. Buildings were taller and more famous and modern, highlighting what modern technology could bring. Likewise, Art Deco costume jewelry and vintage jewelry was rigid and edgy using materials not normally associated with fashion like Bakelite plastic, chrome and steel.
Comparing to some common Art Deco designs, the resemblance is glaring. Earrings are typically long and natural, with large stones accentuating a bold style of the Roarin’ Twenties. Necklaces also featured long and layered beads, bright and attention seeking in order to fit with tight and straight dresses. Rings and bracelets also featured large rocks; watches were perfect for displaying simple geometric shapes like rectangles and squares. The style is noticeable and still carries a unique flair.
Some Art Deco jewelry companies include: AJC, Lang Antiques and Emitations. This style may be perfect for you if you desire a throwback that uses different materials to highlight simplicity, yet maintain elegance.